It’s always nice when you can put miles back into your wallet and reduced mileage awards are a great way to do that. They are relatively easy to take advantage of but in order to do so you will need to be aware of the limitations and different discount levels available.
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about reduced mileage awards.
What are reduced mileage awards?
Reduced mileage awards are special discounts on American Airlines MileSAAver awards to select destinations that are available to some American Airlines co-branded credit card holders.
These discounts allow you to save thousands of miles on redemptions, which can knock down the price of a flight from 12,500 miles to 8,750 miles.
The list of select destinations changes every month and every two months the list is completely updated.
Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!
Are reduced mileage awards worth it?
Some might wonder if reduced mileage awards are really worth it.
Obviously, if you can save miles on the trip you already planned on taking the savings are going to be worth it as long as the booking process is not an extreme pain in the rear end (it’s usually not — although problems do sometimes arise).
So from that perspective, I think the awards are almost always worth it when you can utilize them.
The biggest thing to be on the lookout for are “Web Specials.” These are awards that can be extremely cheap, sometimes cheaper than the MileSAAver awards with the reduced mileage award discount.
You should always be on the lookout for those awards because you could save even more miles by booking them.
But in terms of the value proposition of your American Airlines credit card, that’s a little bit of a different story.
You can answer that question by first getting a sense of the value that you can get from this benefit.
If you were to utilize the reduced mileage awards for a trip over 500 miles you could save up to 7,500 miles.
At a valuation of 1.37, that comes out to about $102 in value. So if you are utilizing this benefit from a credit card with an annual fee under $100, then that’s an easy way to completely offset the annual fee.
The problem just arises when you realize that the eligible destinations are somewhat limited and it’s not always easy to find availability. So in some instances this credit card perk can be pretty difficult to use which makes its value proposition a little suspect for some.
Eligible credit cards for reduced mileage awards
There are quite a few different cards that will qualify for reduced mileage awards and there are two distinct discount tiers.
The top-tier which offers the biggest discount will be available to you if you have one of the following cards:
- Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
- Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard
- CitiBusiness AAdvantage Select MasterCard
- CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard
- AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard
- AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard
- AAdvantage Aviator Business MasterCard
In the top tier, you can get a 7,500 mile discount on roundtrip flights at 500 miles or more (the discount is 3,750 miles for one-way trips). For flights under 500 miles, the discount is 2,000 miles for a roundtrip or 1,000 miles for a one-way trip.
This means that you can save up to 30% of round-trip flights within the US.
The second tier which offers the smaller discount will be available to you if you have one of the following cards:
- Citi AAdvantage Gold World Elite MasterCard
- AAdvantage Aviator Blue MasterCard
In the bottom tier, you can get a 5,000 mile discount on roundtrip flights at 500 miles or more (the discount is 2,500 miles for one-way trips). For flights under 500 miles, the discount is 1,000 miles for a roundtrip or 500 miles for a one-way trip.
Be sure that you check the terms and conditions to find the latest booking rules.
Typically, there will be a deadline for when you must book your award redemption by and then there will be a separate deadline for when you must actually travel by.
There is also a geographical restriction that requires your travel to originate in the lower 48 (contiguous United States).
Worth noting, you should be able to apply the discount on flights to and from the list of airports.
How to use reduced mileage awards
Figure out your discount type
The first step that you need to take when utilizing this perk is figuring out what type of discount you are eligible for.
You can do this by viewing the list above and seeing whether your credit card qualifies you for the top-tier or lower-tier discount.
Find the discount code
The next step is to pick your class of service and find the corresponding award code. You can find the award codes here.
Below, I have included a breakdown of these codes from early 2021 but keep in mind that the discount codes do change as the schedule gets updated.
Flights within the U.S. (500+ miles)
Make sure that you pay close attention to the cabin type that you are booking.
7,500 mile discount award codes
- First Class (2-cabin aircraft) – UD21X2E / AVM13
- Business Class (3-cabin aircraft) – UD28X7E / AVA07
- Main Cabin – TD8X7E / AVM12
5,000 mile discount award codes
- First Class (2-cabin aircraft) – UD22X5E / AVM11
- Business Class (3-cabin aircraft) – UD30E / AVA01
- Main Cabin – TD10E / AVM10
Flights within the U.S. (under 500 miles)
2,000 mile discount award codes
- First Class (2-cabin aircraft) – UD14E / AVA12
- Main Cabin – TD6X5E / AVA11
1,000 mile discount award codes
- First Class (2-cabin aircraft) – UD14X5E / AVA06
- Main Cabin – TD7E / AVA05
Find your destination
The next step is to choose your destination. The big thing to know here is that availability changes on a monthly basis.
This means that you want to check on the schedule on a regular basis to see if your destination is listed. The schedule is broken down by month and so you can easily review it to see if your desired destination is currently eligible.
And yet another big thing to know about these reduced mileage awards: you won’t always find the most popular cities listed on the schedule. A lot of times, the destinations are much smaller cities.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t find some very popular destinations. For example, in early 2021 some of the popular cities found on the schedule included:
- Denver, Colorado (DEN)
- Detroit, Michigan (DTW)
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FLL)
- Houston, Texas (IAH & HOU)
- Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS)
- Orlando, Florida (MCO)
The thing about these popular cities is that often they may only appear on the schedule for one or two months out of the four available versus the smaller cities that might appear every available month.
After you know your discount type and your desired destination, you then want to check for award availability.
When trying to book these awards, you are looking for “MileSAAver” awards. Now that we are seeing some form of dynamic pricing it’s not as easy to find these MileSAAver awards any longer.
One easy way to find these, is to click on the details when viewing flight options and look for the booking code. The eligible MileSAAver awards will have a “T” class for economy and “U” class for business.
If you are looking at a web special, the code will display something different such as “Y” for economy. Remember, those are NOT eligible for the reduced mileage award discount.
Once you have your destination and code, and you are ready to book, all you need to do is call reservations at 1-800-882-8880.
Since this is an award ticket, be ready to pay the award ticket taxes and fees which begin at $5.60 per one-way trip.
Since these awards cannot be booked online, the $30 phone booking fee should be waived (but just make sure that the agent is aware of this rule).
In addition, the $75 close-in booking fee should no longer apply to these awards.
Reduced mileage awards FAQ
The following cards qualify for the full discount:
Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard
CitiBusiness AAdvantage Select MasterCard
CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard
AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard
AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard
AAdvantage Aviator Business MasterCard
The following cards qualify for the partial discount:
Citi AAdvantage Gold World Elite MasterCard
AAdvantage Aviator Blue MasterCard
Yes, you are allowed to book tickets for other individuals as long as the miles come out of your account.
Yes, you can use the discount for domestic first class flights.
Yes, you can use the discount to book one-way flights.
Unfortunately, no you cannot get the reduced mileage awards with the MileUp card.
Every two months American Airlines will release the new list of eligible destinations. This list will cover four months which means that you can book these awards up to four months in advance.
No, you cannot book these awards online.
No, unfortunately this does not appear to be a possibility.
No, you can only take advantage of the discount a single time with each booking.
Unfortunately, no you cannot use the discount on partners.
Reduced mileage awards are fantastic ways to save thousands of miles on award redemptions. The trick is to find a destination you plan on visiting on the calendar at the right time. It’s not always easy to do that but it definitely is worth it when you can.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.